What is the role of literature in the World State in Brave New World?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literature has no role in the New World; in fact, it is prohiited.  When the Savage arrives in the New World and he recites lines from Romeo and Juliet, the children laugh, for they are unable to understand the emotion that the Savage exhibits as he recites. Then, in Chapter XVI, Mustapha Mond tells Helmholtz, Bernard, and the Savage, who are interested in Othello that no one would understand tragedies.  For, they have been designed to remain satisfied at all times in order for the society to remain stable.  "You can't make tragedies without social instabiltiy," he tells the men.  When the Savage objects, saying that Othello is much better than the feelies, Mond agrees, but adds,

"...that's the price we have to pay for stability.  You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art.  We've sacrificed the high art.  We have the feelies and the scent organ instead."

Since there is no true independent thought or real emotion, literature has no place in the Brave New World.